Salento Travel Guide

Here grows Colombia's national symbol, the 60 meters high wax palms. The landscape is surreal!

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All the info to prepare your trip to Salento. How to get in, maps, activities to...
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Salento is a sleepy little town in Quindío department, in the Zona Cafetera region of Colombia. On weekends and holidays, the town is flooded by tourists from Armenia and Pereira.

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There are buses from 5:30AM to 8PM, they come about every 20 to 30 minutes from Armenia (4,600 COP).

Weekdays there are three direct buses a day to and from Pereira (5,500 COP). Buses from Pereira leave at 6:20AM , 1:20PM and 4:20PM. Weekends there are buses every hour.

  • If you miss the last bus to Salento, the cheapest option is a bus to Circasia and then a taxi from Circasia to Salento for 20,000 pesos (Taxi company on the main square of Circasia).
  • If you`re coming from Pereira then Bus Company Flota Occidental will drop you off in Circasia.
  • If you need to return to Pereira or Armenia, last service is at 18.00 from the main square.
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  • Hike
  • Mototaxi: There is one person, Alexis, who carries people around the town and farms in a Mototaxi (Colombia’s version of a Rickshaw). Prices vary, but the mototaxi accomodates up to 3 adult people for the same price. Many people in town know the driver and even have his phone number at hand. Ph: 4-727-2141, 317-467-7735, 300-785-6349
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  • Crested Outdoors, ☎ +57 3153635767. See the Santa Isabel Glacier in one day, with 4×4 ride from Salento or Manizales. See the amazing Paramo ecosystem, eight volcanoes in between Tolima, Santa Isabel, Paramillo del Quindio, Paramillo de Santa Rosa, N. Del Ruiz. You start from Cocora Valley in three to four days of mountaineering expeditions.

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  • Visit one of the many Organic Coffee Fincas that are in the area.
  • Visit the Mirador – the lookout point. It´s supposed to be one of the best views in Colombia. (Ask in Plantation House for the location of a house with an even better view)
  • Eat Trucha – Trucha is a fish abundant in the region. You can find a plate of Trucha with rice and other sides for COP 10,000 to 20,000, depending on the restaurant and the manner of cooking. Restaurants around the main plaza or “Centro” typically offer Trucha. You can also go to a fish farm and buy or catch your own. However, this may become more expensive.
  • Play Tejo – drinking, throwing metal weights and gun-powder !!!
  • Valle de Cocora. Here grows Colombia’s national symbol, the 60 meters high wax palms (palma de cera). The landscape is surreal! Hike into the Valle de Cocora, one of the most striking landscapes in Colombia. Jeeps leave from the Plaza in Salento early in the morning. Be there around 8AM as they will leave as soon as they fill up. (About COP 3000 per person). Take food and water. The Jeep takes you to the hamlet of Cocora (about 40 minutes). From there you start on the trail through grassland, towering wax palms, crisscrossing a creek into a cloud forest. You can also rent horses, for COP 10,000 per hour per person, plus COP 10,000 per hour for a guide. After about 2 1/2 hours of fairly easy hiking you will get to a ranger post (Acaime) (they want a small donation of COP 5,000 for admission) where you can have a cup of hot chocolate or tea and watch lots of hummingbirds. From here you can either go back to Cocora or do the entire loop over La Montana. To do the loop, backtrack from Acaime for about 1 km, then turn right up the hill to the ranger station at La Montana. This trail is fairly strenuous as it goes straight up for 1.8 km to 2860m. The view from the Mountain House is spectacular. From there it’s an easy 1 1/2 hour (5.1 km) downhill walk along a wide dirt road with fabulous vistas and lots of giant wax palms back to Cocora where your Jeep will take you back to Salento.
  • CicloSalento, (Next door to the Plantation Hostel), ☎ 318 872 9714. Decent mountain bikes are available for hire here, from 8,000 COP for an hour to 35,000 COP for a full day. There are a whole range of trails around the area, providing something for everyone from relative beginners to those who want something a bit more technical. Some of the trails afford some spectacular views across the area and the coffee plantations.
  • Kasaguadua Natural Reserve (1,600 to 1,900 MASL), Salento, vereda Palestina, Km2 (Half way towards El Ocaso and don Elías Coffee Farms, 300 meters after Yambolombia. Jeeps Willys leave from the Plaza in Salento towards Armenia, via Circasia, passing by Kasaguadua’s gate, at 8am, 9am, 12:30 4:30pm & 5:30 pm, for COP 1,500 -less than a dollar-), ☎ 3138898273 or 3204258075 ( 9 am tour. Must reserve in advance, preferably day before. The reserve covers 12 hectares of lush tropical rain forest, with mountainous landscape protecting a natural creek. There is a network of well maintained looping trails (4km), achievable in 1.5 hours up to 6 hours. Its altitude makes it quite different from Cocora Valley’s, allowing you to find another kind of vegetation and climate. Nicholas or Carlos, the owners, will guide you (English, Spanish, Italian). No pets or horses allowed. Voluntary donations.
  • Salento´s fiesta is typically the first week of January. Salento transforms from a sleepy little village to party central.
  • Further afield – Butterfly house in Calarca or the Guadua (Bamboo research Centre) or even the very touristy National Coffee Park.
  • If you really want something different try pig racing at Panaca.
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There are two ATMs in the main square. There is a Bancolombia ATM in a stall to the right of the supermarket. This ATM sometimes does not accept foreign debit cards. The other is provided by Banco Agraro de Colombia, located on the opposite side of the main plaza from the supermarket. The bank and the door to the ATM are not particularly obvious from a distance.

Plenty of local artisans in Salento. Specialities include jewelry, candles and guadua artisania (the local bamboo).

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  • El Rincón de Lucy (on the corner of calle 4 with Carrera 6) has cheap but rich set lunches.
  • Bar Camino Real, (at the end of the calle real, the touristy street, just before the stairs leading up to the mirador on your right). A very nice, artisty place with a small but delicious menu. It is highly recommended for dinner or coffee/drink after dark. There is even a fireplace with benches to sit around.
  • Café Jesus Martin, Cra 6 # 6-14. Excellent, cosy coffee house, with – obviously – locally grown coffee. The cappuccinos are especially great, and the chocolate cake is incredible. If you like to chill out in a comfy bar, this is the place to be.
  • BETA TOWN, Calle 7 # 3-45 (Two blocks from the fire station, or just ask for the only soccer turf court cancha sintetica), ☎ 321 218 7043. Every day from 6pm till 12am. BETA TOWN offers the best fast food in town, with a great presentation and quality. All the meats are grilled 100% “al carbon” (charcoal grill) giving all its food a great taste. While you wait for your order to be ready,you can play some Ping-Pong, darts, card games, play the Colombian leisure game “tejo” (like lawn bowl with gunpowder. COP2000 – Jan 2015- each session) or watch a movie or any sports in HD on their big screen TV or at the bar, play a game with the locals in their turf soccer court or have some fun in their video game room. If you miss home, they have an international call service or you can connect to their free WIFI and talk to friends online. Dont forget to write a message on the board before you leave!
  • La Eliana, Carrera 2 # 6, 45 (at the entrance of Salento, take first right and voila!), ☎ 3146605987. 10am – 9pm. Best value for money in Salento, host a great deal of food from India, the UK, Italy, Spain and Colombia. Prices from COP 7,000. Best Italian style coffees. Curries Indian/UK style with naan bread. You will not be disappointed. 7.000 COP.
  • Piccolo Italia, (Just to the left before the huge stairs on the main street). Cosy Italian restuarant run by a man from Napoli, Italy. Great food, homemade pasta and friendly staff. 13000-32000.
  • Homemade Arepas, Carrera 7. 6-9 am and 5-9 pm. Freshly made arepas toasted on a woodfire grill, served with butter and shredded cheese. A cheap, delicious, traditional breakfast or light dinner. In the mornings, yellow corn arepas for COP 1500 with butter and cheese, one block down from main plaza and in front of entrance to Hostel Estrella Sin Fronteras. In the evenings, a lady makes thicker white corn arepas for COP 2000 a few blocks down. COP $1500-$2000.
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  • Speak Easy, Calle 6 #0-48, N/A Salento, Quindio (Head out of town past the fire station. Look for the sign.). Friendly bar run by two Australian brothers Dan and Dave. Good music, good vibes and play a game of 4 2 1.
  • Weekends – any where round the main square – all the bars have beer tents set up. Along the Calle Reale, Bar Quindio has a couple of pool tables and lots of billiard tables.
  • For something different, there’s a Tejo bar two blocks from the main square (normally only open at weekends).
  • La Eliana, Carrera 2#6, 45, ☎ +57 314 660 5987. 10am-9pm. Best value for money in Salento, host a great deal of food from India, the UK, Italy, Spain and Colombia. Prices from COP 7,000. Best Italian style coffees. Curries Indian/UK style with naan bread. You will not be disappointed.
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  • El Portal de los Pigmeos, Cra 8a, 7-42 (walk down the road by the hospital), ☎ 3113839121 ( Offers camping sites, tents, and private rooms. A tent per night COP 15000 (Jan 2015), cheaper if you have your own tent.
  • Estrella Sin Fronteras, (take the opposite corner to the stairs for the Mirador, walk down the rubber tires, on the right), ☎ 311 383 3210. Run by Colombian man named Ruben Escobar. Dorm 15,000 COP. Dorm 15,000 COP.
  • Finca de Don Elias, 4 Km on the way to the Palestina vereda. Don Elias is the owner of a coffee plantation. It offers only one bedroom that fits up to 4-5 people, with clean facilities and a private bathroom. Price is COP 15,000 per person per night. Don Elias offers coffee tours in Spanish for COP 5,000 per person, with a cup of truly homemade coffee (from grain to cup) at the end. Ask around Salento for Alexis, the gentleman with the mototaxi, and he can take you there for COP 8000 (up to three people for this price). You can always just go to Don Elias’ plantation for the coffee tour, which is COP 5,000
  • Hostal Ciudad de Segorbe, Calle 5 No. 4-06, ☎ +57 (6) 7593 794 ( checkin: 7:00; checkout: 13:00. A tranquilo place, not yet discovered by the backpacker crowd. Run by a friendly Spanish-Colombian team, this hostel provides cozy, wooden floor rooms with clean bathrooms and steaming hot showers. The owners have good knowledge about the region. Breakfast is included and is, for once, not a synonym for cheap cereals or eggs and arepa. COP 100,000 double with bathroom; COP 22,000 dorm bed.
  • Hostal La Casona de Lili, Calle Real 3-45 (Just off the main square), ( Warm welcomes. Colombian owned. Great tourist advice. COP 15 000 dorm bed (November 2014) Free Coffee
  • Hostal Tralala Salento, cra. 7, 6-45 (stay on the bus until the last stop. Facing the bus office you walk right, about 75 mtrs.), ☎ 314 850 55 43 ( Hostal Tralala Salento is situated in a typical Paisa house that has been completely renovated up to modern standards. There is room for 21 guests in 5 double rooms, a dorm for 3, and a dorm for 8 persons. Two well equipped kitchens, a garden with sun terrace, a TV lounge with lots of quality DVD’s and showers with steaming hot water make life easy. The beds have quality matresses, soft pillows, white linnen and comfortable duvets. All guests get a handy brochure with maps and ‘things to do’ in Salento. The atmosphere is warm and personal.
  • Hostal La Floresta, Cra 5 No 10 – 11 (walk down the hill from the main plaza towards Cra 5. Turn left at Cra 5 and cross the bridge and it’s on the left.), ☎ 318 249 21 04. Run by a Colombian lady and her family. Rents mountain bikes for trips down to the Cocoa plantations, and gumboots for the Valle de Cocora hike. Dorm 16,000 COP.
  • Hostería Las Nubes, Carrera 9 Calle 8, ☎ 759-3620 ( One of the most beautiful places to stay during your visit to Salento, Quindío. Bead and breakfast place with excellent landscapes and services.
  • La Serrana, Via Palestina km 1.5, ☎ 316 29 61 890. Finca that is located 1.5km outside of Salento. This place breaths quietness amidst slopes of farmland. The hostel is beautifully decorated, has a cozy living room with couches and the owner has an excellent music selection playing through the old speakers. There is also a large movie and book (English and Spanish) selection. La Serrana only opened April 2010 and screams to be discovered. Call the owner on his cellphone for a pick-up from Salento or let them pay the Jeep (6.000 COP from the main square) when you first arrive there. COP 80.000 triple with bathroom; COP 20.000 dorm bed. Breakfast included.
  • Plantation House, Calle 7 #1-04 (Get off at the fire station by the entrance to Salento), ☎ Spanish : 315 4097039 / English : 316 2852603 ( Nice hostels with big gardens – one dormitory style, one with private rooms. The hostels offer kitchen use, fireplace, free coffee, laundry facilities, bookswap, mountain bike rental and have good trekking maps of the nearby parque Los Nevados and a map of Salento showing restaurants, supermarkets, etc…
  • Yambolombia, ☎ 301 296 01 01 ( 3 km on the way to la Finca de Don Elias this colorful, Colombian run hostel has a spacy dorm with 5 beds and two private rooms, a quiet surrounding and wonderful views. Dorm 18.000 COP, Private 50.000 COP
  • La Churrita Hostel, Cra 3, no 7-01 corner (, ☎ 0057 315 377 9810. checkin: 24 hrs. La Churrita Hostel is a typical and historic reality of Salento. Located in the town centre, 3 mins from the main square, 2 blocks from the station “Bomberos”. La Churrita offers wifi, plasma 3D TV, fully equipped kitchen, hot showers, free coffee all day long to be enjoyed in a nice garden. Laundry service, tourist infos and printer. 4 bed dorm 17,000 COP and privates 25,000 COP Roberto is a fantastic host, highly recommended!
  • Hotel Salento Real, Calle 3 Nº 4 – 31, ☎ +57 – 6 – 7593658. 27 guestrooms. Room rate includes breakfast. There is a restaurant in the hotel premisses.
  • Hostel los Colibries, Carrera 6 No. 2-20, ☎ (57)3147184221. checkout: 13. Nice, quiet hostel made in old, traditional finca on the main street. 4 beds in dormitory (17.000 COP) and 6 double rooms with private baths (60.000 COP). Wi-Fi.
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In 2011 there have been a number of murders and car bombs related to the ongoing mafia war between drug cartels in the city. Shopping centers all over the city have been scenes of shoot outs between rivaling mafia factions. It is advised to avoid shopping centers with poor security, although some of the biggest and most well guarded malls in Cali have been scenes of murders too.

Besides these isolated cases, this year the city started to experience a strengthening in its security compared to previous years; as a result, in 2008 the homicide rate in Cali was 66 per 100,000 inhabitants, in 2010 the rate was 80 per 100,000 inhabitants, and in 2011 this rate was reduced to 77 per 100,000 inhabitants. In 2011 the number of stolen cars dropped 21% with 323 fewer cases, burglaries were also reduced 17%, with 152 fewer cases.

The city has increased its security by installing around 254 cameras. This system allows coverage of 30% of all the city, and its estimated that for 2013 the number of cameras is going to increase to 500.

  • As of 2011 the guerrilla movement FARC-EP has urban militias in the city and surroundings. Extreme caution is advised due to the risk of explosions, gunfire and kidnappings. U.S. citizens have been targets of kidnappings.
  • In November 2010 the U.S. State Department issued a travel warning regarding Cali, warning of a surge in crime, general insecurity and kidnappings.
  • Cali is considered more dangerous than most other major cities in Colombia; therefore, keep your eyes open at day and night. Try to take a taxi at night.
  • Avoid backstreet in the downtown (El Centro) and Sucre neighborhoods. This area is especially dangerous. Walking alone at night at Avenida Sexta can be unsafe.
  • As in most other cities, it is unwise to walk with jewelry or let people around you know you have cash on you. Most places around hotels are safe.
  • Try not to talk on cellphones while walking through streets; that might lure in robbers. Also do not use MP3 players or other valuables in public.
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  • Don’t miss Valle de Cocora. Here grows Colombia’s national symbol, the 60 metre high waxpalms (palma de cera). Every day trucks or jeeps (also called “Willies”) go from the plaza Salento to the valley at 7.30AM, 9:30AM and 11.30AM and go back at 12.30PM, 2PM and 5PM (more on weekends). People who miss these trucks, can sometimes find room on the jeeps leaving the local elementary school at 2PM, bringing students back to their fincas. Likewise, tourists have the option of paying 24,000 pesos (approximately $14 USD) for jeeps that leave whenever they want. Once at the park, there is a nice halfday hike up to finca Acaima through the cloudforest and back through the valley. The scenery is quite exotic and beautiful due to the wax palms and lovely jungle plants.
  • The nearby Parque Natural Nacional Los Nevados provide ample trekking opportunity. The way of life in the fincas in the park hasn’t changed the last 200 years. Most of the fincas in the park offer food and beds for a bargain price.

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Salento is a sleepy little town in Quindío department, in the Zona Cafetera region of Colombia. On weekends and holidays, the town is flooded by tourists from Armenia and Pereira. Don’t miss the Valle de Cocora where grows Colombia’s national symbol, the 60 meters high wax palms. The landscape is surreal!

Travel and tourism in Salento. How to get in, maps, activities to do, where to eat and sleep. Download the Free Salento Travel Guide.

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Michel Piccaya


As a freelance travel photographer, Michel Piccaya has been on the road worldwide for more than 20 years, exploring the most incredible itineraries. He’s currently based in Brussels however never stays at home for a long time !

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